The NeverTrump Vindication

They may be on respirators. But conscientious conservatives still count.

Comments: 243

  1. The only way Trump goes away before Jan 2021 is if Moscow Mitch can come up with 20 GOP votes to convict/remove under a secret ballot, and threaten him with it. Though Trump won’t want to resign, it would be preferable to be the second president to do so rather than the first to be removed from office. Wow, that was a nice dream.

  2. A politician soliciting a thing of value in an election from a foreign government is a crime, regardless of whether the individual got the thing of value he asked for or not. Withholding Congressionally-funded military aid for that assistance digging up dirt on a political rival is extortion. They are both an abuse of power that goes against Chump’s (false) oath to the Constitution. He can’t be trusted, and must be held accountable. It’s that simple.

  3. I think that Trump is vile and needs to be removed by impeachment or by the next election. For it to be the former, someone will have to explain to the public clearly and compellingly why what Trump did in Ukraine was so bad. It feels dirty and corrupt, but for his enablers to risk losing their power by supporting impeachment, it will need to be overwhelmingly clear in the public’s eyes how much Trump put the country in danger. I would vote for a ham sandwich over Trump. But there are lots and lots of folks who just love his policies despite his vileness, lying, and corruption. They won’t be swayed by technical arguments about his Ukraine actions being wrong.

  4. @Sam sadly trump has all the juicy stuff on Elaine chaos family dealings. He is going to use that as leverage. Haven’t you noticed how Mitch McConnell stutters when it comes to trump, he is the same guy who had vowed to oppose Obama from day one of Obama’s presidency.

  5. I have been reading a good deal about John Adams and by Edmund Burke. As a Left-Liberal Democrat I want to understand the appeal of conservative thought that has made it an essential aspect of the American dialogue. The two ideas that were central to the development of this line of thought from Burke to Buckley was a respect for the possible contribution of institutions and norms, and a concern with the concentration of power in one branch of government, whether it be judges who would act as philosopher - kings, or single houses of the legislature or all powerful executives. And then, for the power of a reality TV celebrity this whole line of thought has been sacrificed for one who, like Mao, has waged a mindless cultural revolution against all norms and institutions, and who has now placed persons such as Bill Barr in the position of advocating unlimited executive authority. Now another deeply held values,shared by both liberals and conservatives but cherished more by the latter, namely the value of the sovereignty of the US itself is being cast away as the president is advertising that any other state is welcome to interfere in the 2020 election. The Muller investigation is like a murder investigation that determines not to indict and then the suspect goes out and kills someone in celebration. And thus we are forced to engage in the violence of impeachment to avoid the country becoming some object at an auction between autocrats. What happened to you people?

  6. @Greg Jones "What happened to you people?" They got fed up with 30 years of Democratic politicians' increasing tokenism and increasingly annoying political correctness as cover for never really doing much. Reversing the US political meltdown means junking or reforming the GOP, and to do that needs a credible opposition, and forging a credible opposition requires reforming the Democratic Party. The hidebound Democratic establishment is the stumbling block. Bernie Sanders has been right all along.

  7. @Sage Tend to somewhat agree but Dems have done more than you give them credit for. Junking the GOP party sounds like the best idea. A former republican recently told me he had left the party after he finally realized that all they give us are wars and debt. I agreed with him but would have to add rampant poverty and inequality to his list.

  8. @Blanche White I left the GOP for the Democrats some forty years ago. Watergate was a big reason, but mostly, it was the idea that the GOP seemed to think that it had the right to tell me what I could and could not do with my own uterus. That did it for me.

  9. It is true: if you are a significant Republican public figure, and Trump has not slandered you, you have something to account for. A majority in the Senate voting to convict Trump would likely cost Trump the election, but who exactly is that fourth Republican senator going to be?

  10. @Greg Weis I think it fantasy to think there are 3 likely to convict. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski have disappointed too many times in the past, and Romney won't buck the party either, IMHO.

  11. @Bj . Susan Collins survives only because she's one of the boys.

  12. @Bj Susan Collins? That really gives new life to the idea that "hope springs eternal." In my world, that hope really is gullibility.

  13. My scenario: Trump wakes up to the fact that he could end up in jail, along with some in his family. He knows that his leverage is fading fast. He cuts a deal. No more NYC. He gets to have his Florida digs. He leaves before the end of his term. GOP gets an open convention. It was Donald all along, like a toxic cloud. Now he is gone.

  14. @Stephen C. Rose. No deals. I believe that if Nixon rightfully ended up in jail, Trump would not have run for president. He knows how many skeletons he has in his closet. This time, he needs to be made an example of. I posted months ago that Trump thinks the worst that could happen to him, is retirement in Mar a Lago, which is turning out to be true so far. Jail him, his family, Barr, and Giuliani.

  15. @Stephen C. Rose Hopefully...

  16. @Stephen "He knows how many skeletons he has in his closet." Does he? Or are they just the way the world works? Being a "stable genius" Trump can have no skeletons in the close just beautiful and perfect deals, and if you don't believe just ask him!

  17. Never-Trumpers in the Senate need to think about the country... they need to vote on some of the bills that the House have passed. That would show the world that Never-Trumpers are really dangerous to Trump and his agenda.

  18. It seems that individual courage is a very rare trait, perhaps especially among politicians who love power and money. We are a sorry species.

  19. @Tricia Some lines of the small mammals that hid in holes 65 million years ago ultimately evolved to become us. Hiding worked for them. Maybe the apple doesn't fall far from the tree?

  20. @Tricia Exactly. The leaders of both parties expect the newly elected to toe the party line like lemmings or forget the money and power that might come their way. Where is courage indeed! I don't particularly care for "the squad" but they do have courage!

  21. @Tricia, I would argue that it's careerism. These guys don't want to go back to being lawyers in their hometowns, and there is money in lobbying, but you don't get to feel as important. I don't have the exact quote but Lindsey Graham has said about as much.

  22. It is amazing to me that there is not one "never Trump" Republican in the House who had the moral strength to vote with he Democrats earlier this week. There is a critical mass of Republicans who are horrified by Trump and one would think a few Representatives would have voted on their behalf. The never Trump Republicans have to start speaking up. Because there are plenty of them. And the Democrats have to make it easier for them to cross over and vote for a Democrat by nominating a more moderate candidate like Mayor Pete. Personally I find it hard to believe that there is anyone who is so bad that they would make someone vote for Trump, who has taken a torch to all of the principles and beliefs on which this country was founded. But a moderate will help. Let's just get Trump out of office and then move towards more liberal policies.

  23. The behavior of the Republicans is readily explained: a lack of integrity.

  24. By all means let's nominate no experience Mayor Pete. Trump will spit him out before breakfast!

  25. @NYC BD No, not in the mood to vote for a Democrat who is acceptable to Never Trumpers. Fix your own party before you try fixing mine.

  26. "What despots and demagogues fear most is their followers developing a conscience." If that resonates with you, then be sure to read "Trump and the Demise of Democracy. " It's a new book on Amazon in Kindle and paperback at what must be introductory prices. It combines a blueprint for disassembling democracy with examples of how Trump is doing it. Get it before you get "A Warning. "

  27. @Publius not listed on Amazon.

  28. I keep returning to the comment by Winston Churchill: 'Some men abandon their party for the sake of their principles. Others, their principles for the sake of their party'. Examples abound, mainly for the second section.

  29. @David This is why Trump will win the Impeachment trial, but lose at the ballot box. I have a strong suspicion this is part of what the founding fathers had in mind when the impeachment process was baked into the constitution. Once again, the upcoming presidential election is there for the democrats to win unless, of course, they decide to run with a candidate so far to the left that they lose it anyway, (though even Warren would be far better than Trump).

  30. @David He also said “The best argument against Democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Democracy is, in my opinion the best system, problem is America is not a Democracy, not even close, it is a Corporate Oligarchy.

  31. churchill is the same guy who believed in racial hierarchy “ In Churchill's view, white protestant Christians were at the top, above white Catholics, while Indians were higher than Africans, he adds. "Churchill saw himself and Britain as being the winners in a social Darwinian hierarchy."

  32. Here we go again. Depending on Mitt Romney, Susan Collings, and Lisa Murdowski who have always sided with Trump in the end. Why depend on these people who enjoy getting the attention, and perhaps attracting a few more votes, but who always finally let us down. Perhaps they are worst then the other ones who at least don't deceive us.

  33. @Bill B You are right. Collins gave an passionate 45 minute speech to support voting for Justice Kavanagh. Why did she have to do that? She is the worse fraud of all of them.

  34. I've dropped the "never-Trump" label. I moved on to the "never-Republican" label. Even that phrase, "conscientious conservative," nauseates me toward a bottle of Mylanta. You'd have to have been in a very particular place in 2016 for me to give you any attention in that space. Perhaps Gov. Kasich. Romney: He's meaningless to me; I used to admire him and his father, but his obsequiousness did him in. Did anyone who admired Charlie Manson or Ted Bundy get a pass later on? No.

  35. @Charles Coughlin Does Stephens' saying the conservative faction stands for "moral traditionalism" make you gag as much as it makes me gag? We're seeing the true colors of the Republican Party now, that's for sure.

  36. Across the board, the GOP politicians in DC lack: 1) personal courage to do the right things for the nation; 2) personal integrity to live true to their avowed free-market and conservative policies; and, 3) personal conviction to act in manner consistent with their religious beliefs, whichever these may be. It must be frightening to look at their family, wives, husbands, children and grandchildren and attempt to explain their failure to live honest lives. And to themselves.

  37. @GTM I know it is difficult for those on the one side to believe that those in the other camp are not morally blind, uneducated or reprehensible. However, most of us never shed the blinders placed on us by birth. The fate of a multicultural ,spacious, geographically diffuse nation is glaring differences in belief. Unfortunately, one person's moral imperative is another's shibboleth.

  38. @GTM Their spouses knew them and signed on. Their children are being raised to be like them and so will have no problem with what Dad or Mom did. They will acknowledge no moral or religious compromise, no self-serving motives and no cowardice because they believe, as Trump does, they can do nothing wrong and their record is "perfect."

  39. A wonderful, hopeful column. The Never Trumpers may be the single most shining example of the moxie and positioning to send Trumpism to our national graveyard of toxic movements.

  40. Bret, I grew up in the era of thoughtful conservative politicians. Here in liberal Massachusetts, Republican Silvio Conte served 16 terms in the House of Representatives. He championed environmental protections, was a strong supporter of public higher education, and medical research. He had a sense of what what fair and right, and he reached across the aisle. Today when I look across the House aisle, I see the Stepford Wives.

  41. @Richard Frank, Yes, but I would argue this had more to do with cultural geography and Yankee good-governance than with being a Republican. From post-bellum to about mid-century, if you lived in the North, you were a Republican - with some obvious exceptions - and that affiliation contained a lot of different political views.

  42. @Richard Frank Yes, and we south of you had John Chafee in the Senate and Claudine Schneider in the House. I would vote for either of them again.

  43. @Richard Frank Here's another example. In 1964 a coalition of Democrats and Republicans passed the Wilderness Act that established the National Wilderness Preservation System. It is one of the most successful things ever done to protect remnants of the natural environment for future generations. Amazing what can happen when people work together for a good cause.

  44. No one is surprised that never-trumpers like Cruz and Graham buckled at the knee in craven obeisance-after trump's surprise win. Given the unctuous record of conservatives, I assumed that all Republicans would quickly fall into line--and I was very nearly right. But I am happy to have been at least partly wrong. It is reassuring to know that there are at least a few conservatives with a moral core. Indeed, it is reassuring to know that it is even possible to be a conservative and have any moral core at all. But a number of conservatives have in fact shown admirable courage and fortitude. And I am grateful to all the stalwart, conservative never-trumpers like Mr. Stephens for their principled and patriotic stand against our American Caligula. We will need every available hand to rid ourselves of this monster.

  45. @Jack Craypo Agree. But have to quibble with the Caligula comparison when it appears on these threads. Trump makes Caligula look like a model of good-governance.

  46. @Jack Craypo Agreed. I don’t see any evidence that unicorn conscience conservative exists. They are mostly just the same hypocrites only they can’t bear openly supporting Trump - so they will lie low until November 2020. Then they will start lecturing the next Democrat President on the evils of the deficit. 😂

  47. @strangerq I disagree. We can and do find many of the positions of our conservative allies to be morally deplorable (climate change, in this case), but I think never-trump cvonservatives have shown us something important. On core matters on conscience, they are willing to sacrifice their obvious self-interest in the defense of transcendent ideals. They are passing a far higher test than progressives in expressing opposition to trump. They deserve at least some measure of respect for that.

  48. Don't understand why you consider the battle between trumpers and never trumpers a battle between conservative republicans. Now never trumpers may or may not be conservatives but trumpers are always regressives.

  49. The Never Trump Republicans (and maybe someday I will be considered the founding member of the Never Trump Vegan Republicans on this forum if the Democrats keep moving left) are indeed the most dangerous group to Trump. They will beg their Senators to remove him and do so vocally. And their tiny percentage is still bigger than Trump's best plausible margin of victory among other voters against either Biden or Klobuchar in the Great Lakes states. They have two ways to knock down this house of cards. In 370 days (or possibly sooner) we may be saying "Never in the field of US politics was so much owed by so many to so few".

  50. @Alan Alan, perhaps you should consider becoming an independent -- Vegan or not. Us independents are just that -- we think for ourselves. We don't need a 'party' to tell us our beliefs. As a vegan, you surely have that nature in you. Never Trump, Never 'too far left', who cares -- go independent, vote your beliefs and heart -- integrity. This is our path to a better place.

  51. Truth, competence and respecting the U.S. constitution shouldn't be a matter of vindication. Or partisan. But the GOP insists on making it that way. At what point does vindication really mean relief at being spared the conversion experience? If we know anything about group behavior, it's that the first four or five GOP senators will be much slower to abandon ship than the last four or five. Republicans on the Hill who've stood behind Mr. Trump for the sake of their ideology are bound to realize any day now that the best chance of preserving it is to let VP Pence take over. Trotsky might be smiling, but Otto von Bismark would be absolutely, totally confounded. He came up with the notion of government-sponsored health coverage to discourage trade unions.

  52. to try when your arms are too weary... your quest is well worth it Mr. Stevens- we the people need to summon all those who love this country to stand up to greed, narcissism and the casual abasement of those who see honor in helping others. The price of this commitment is to be well thrashed, but the importance of standing with truth is nothing less than everything.

  53. Look I know the Mueller Report has been "cancelled" but the facts remain that the majority of democrats supported impeachment after its release. This impeachment is like throwing a costume party and 80% show up in costume and the other 20% have to do a "strange" face with make-up but they get in. As for Republicans I still don't think a lot of them realize what is in the Mueller report. Impeachment for soliciting a dirty trick that didn't happen is complicated. Even Nixon may have survived if the Watergate break-in was only proposed and then covered-up. Honestly if HRC had been president she may have had ideas about Ukraine generals to fire before giving the aid and both parties kind of agree that dirty money flows from Ukraine into our politics. President Trump telling McGahn to obstruct the special consul is easy enough to communicate. Trump is trying to fix the Russia story with the Quid Quo Pro, just like when he fired Comey and orders the special consul to be obstructed. The driving force behind impeachment has always been that Trump thinks he's above the law; his lawyers said so in court recently.

  54. @Ty Barto NOPE. Federal LAW says that it is illegal to even ASK a foreign person or government to perform a "dirty trick" in connection with any election in the United States. The LAW is plain and clear. NO ONE RUNNING FOR ELECTION can even ASK for campaign help from any foreign government, no quid pro quo necessary. Period. One of the reasons why I am so angered by MSM in the US is that NONE OF THEM will cite this law in connection with what Trump did. IT IS A FELONY, with penalties of imprisonment and fines. It actually is a "high crime" for the purposes of impeachment. Trump really does think that none of the laws on the books apply to him and anything he does. Check 52 United States Code Section 30121(a). The law that Trump broke is as plain as can be, no ambuiguity at all.

  55. @Elizabeth Moore thanks for providing chapter and verse. It does seem that since September 17 we were given facts, but cloudy interpretations and gaslighting, which provided Trump and his supporters with enough ambiguity to confuse the ordinary citizen.

  56. To echo your comment- why do we have to bury ourselves in the “comments” section to get such a declarative statement? NYT- Brent Stephens- this should be a part of your main column; of news items about impeachment. It frustrates me that we have many discussions about the “political” aspects; not so much about the actual charges.

  57. Bravo Bret, your optimism is bracing. Thank you especially for your salute to the genuine courage of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Being "scandalized" is the least of the butcher's bill that true hero will pay for his bearing witnessing against the libertine in the White House.

  58. The sacrifice of doing what is right is best rewarded after the fact and seldom in the moment. To truly live in the moment is to recognize this fact. At his end, John McCain did. I wonder if Mitch McConnell might do the same?

  59. @Clinton Howell -> Nope. The odds that Mitch will somehow incubate, nourish and grow a conscience at this late date lie somewhere between infinitesimal and inconceivable. It's not safe to dream while you're awake. Disasters like Trump happen.

  60. @Clinton Howell Yes, John McCain did take a firm stand against Trump, which is why Donald continues besmirching the late Senator. Good grief, Trump, after all this time, carries on about having never liked McCain and how he never will! Trump thinks he has a target on his back because of the NeverTrump movement? He is still running a NeverMcCain movement. How petty and vindictive can anyone be? Thanks for what you wrote. Take care.

  61. @Clinton Howell Mitch McConnell is so hell-bent on revenge on the American public that he will NEVER, ever do what is right. He is far too invested in packing the courts with charlatans who will turn back the clock on civil rights and human rights in the United States. McConnell is especially enraged by the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s, when people of color gained some relief from the oppression of Jim Crow. He is determined to "go back to the good ole' days" of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s when White Supremacy was King. McConnell is determined to destroy this nation.

  62. Never Trumpers, assuming they retained decency and sanity, should leave GOP ASAP. Otherwise they are neither decent nor sane. The conservative movement, which absorbed GOP, armed with Southern Strategy, has reached it’s culmination with Trump, a clear dead end. Complete degeneration of conservatism. The Republican Party from 1970s or older would be way too outdated and it wouldn’t offer anything of value to this country today. Different problems, different needs and different climate. We need more efficient and bigger government, higher taxes to fund many utterly neglected areas in this country. Neither of these needs, affordable education, health care for all, addressing climate change and protecting the environment, were important for GOP last 4-5 decades. So why bother to revive GOP? We could have a new kind of conservatives that are common in EU, but why? We already have those and they are moderate Democrats.

  63. I still think he will resign rather than undergo the humiliation of a public trial.

  64. @LarryAt27N I used to think so too. But with pending criminal prosecutions waiting, I think he will try to retain the office at ANY cost.

  65. @Sheldon his family is not immune. They should continue investigating trump’s family transactions. His son daughter son in law are not president of the country.

  66. @LarryAt27N I don't think he could calm his ego enough to resign.

  67. Perhaps it's the optimism of relative youth (I have 15 years on Mr. Stephens) or just one more example of defining deviance down, but declaring a "moral defeat" for Trump if four Republicans vote for impeachment seems like wishful thinking in the extreme. If Republicans can not rouse even 10% of their Senators to defend the Constitution, if a conservative pundit as smart as Brett Stephens can't even venture a name for a fourth Republican with even minimal patriotism, if we are to count on Susan Collins as an example of character and courage than it's time to admit the obvious: NeverTrumpers are still making believe that the problem begins and ends with Trump, that he is an aberration, that there will be a post Trump Republican Party worthy of support from pro-democracy citizens who believe in the rule of law and still believe in the promise of an inclusive America. There will be no "political humiliation" felt by a man and a party that is incapable of shame. And a 90% capitulation by the Republican party will not be a moral victory. It will be an indelible stain. A Democratic victory in 2020 will stop the stain from spreading, and it may fade some of over the years if Republicans reverse course, but nothing will erase it, history will neither forgive or forget.

  68. If ONLY that were true. An appealing sentiment, but in these wildly transitional times, not likely.

  69. @LT - I agree wholeheartedly. Plus, pundits like Bret Stephen use the "Never Trumper" movement as a smokescreen because populist presidential candidate Trump has morphed into a traditional Republican president except for his outlandish & non-Presidential tweets & openly brazen (as opposed to subtle dog whistles) embracing white nationalism. Trump is owned lock, stock & barrel by the billionaire GOP class like the NRA, Koch, Chevron, Shell, Exxon, BP, Energy Transfer Partners, Murray Energy, Continental Resources, NextEra Energy, Rosebud Mining, AT&T, Boeing, AT&T, Bank of America, Charles Schwab, Lockheed Martin, Hobby Lobby, L.L. Bean, Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Casinos, Merrill Lynch, etc. His policies don't benefit any of his hard core voters because he's broken almost all of his campaign promises to them. There's nothing he can do to help put more money in working class pockets in red states because he's a puppet to the Corporate elite. The entire USA vs. China trade war is a smokescreen to make believe he's fighting for the little guys. He's not, as his financial backers don't want to win unless it puts more money in their fat pockets.

  70. @LT I think Mr. Stephens thinks that gaining a simple majority for conviction in the Senate would represent a moral victory in the impeachment battle. However, we all know how well the 3,000,000 popular vote victory in 2016 turned out. It should have flipped the term “populist” on its head, but it hasn’t yet that anyone can tell.

  71. If he is impeached: he will eventually declare victory; say that he has accomplished what he set out to do (built the wall, made Washington safe for conservatives, cut taxes, reshaped the Supremes, etc.); that his faithful lieutenant Pence will take over and ride to victory in 2020 and 2024; and that he wishes to spend less (or more - not sure) time with his family.

  72. @Andrew the entire world is watching shocked what has America come to!

  73. Bret Stevens is only half correct. He says "The decency of being scandalized is what being NeverTrump is centrally about, and why the movement remains important. It’s the opposite of the opportunism required to go along with the president because you might get something out of him." Ahem. Actually, the decency of being scandalized is a thing that is not only a characteristic of "Never Trumpers," it is a characteristic of decent folks everywhere, whether they are progressives or conservatives. The Resistance movement is a movement of "Never Trumpers," people who were first scandalized by Trump's casual use of vulgar terms to refer to what he does to unsuspecting women, and the "scandalization" of decent people everywhere only grew as Trump continued to break laws and flout common decency. No, this vindication does not only belong to NeverTrumpers. It belongs to all of us.

  74. @Elizabeth Moore Bret doesn't recognize liberals and progressives as decent people.

  75. The NeverTrumpers have 2 things in common. First, they are rich or powerful/influential—not an average Joe or Jane in the bunch. So they have a lot to lose if the status quo is disrupted. Secondly, the are clueless about the political rule that Dems, Republicans and even Independents follow religiously: the policies the president will pursue are the only thing that matters, not their character. Consider the bright lights of the Dem party—FDR, Kennedy and Clinton. Their treatment of women was deeply troubling but they are still heroes to the Dems. Why? Because of their views. Trump is a deeply flawed man. But he was clearly going to put conservatives on the court—Hillary would not have done so. And you can go down the list of issues he believes in. Conservative. And he understood the existential threat of our irrational immigration approach where none of the others, including Republicans, did. In short, the neverTrumpers are as naive as the Dems.

  76. I know some middle class Never Trumpers. Not many, I’ll grant you, but they know the difference between character flaws and no character at all. They insist on a better leader than that guy.

  77. @ehillesum I’m afraid that’s not an accurate description of Never Trumpers. Many middle class “nobodies” would proudly wear a Human Scum shirt.

  78. @ehillesum Character is the ONLY thing that matters! FDR and JFK were GREAT men, despite their flaws. Trump is dishonorable and a disgrace to his office and to the nation. Trump has the lowest character of anyone I've ever known in America. Even the evil and vicious Roy Cohn, who taught Trump how to be so vicious, would never have been as treasonous as Trump has been. Bill Clinton was a DINO -- a Democrat In Name Only. He voted in the entire Republican (Newt Gingrich) agenda! Clinton's legislation: Don't Ask, Don't Tell (anti gay), The Defense of Marriage Act (unconstitutional, anti-gay), 1996 Welfare Reform (anti-poor/minority), overturned Glass Steagall Act (pro-business, wrecked the economy), supported NAFTA (pro-business, anti worker), backed "Three Strikes And You're Out" (mass incarceration, racist disparity in sentencing), etc. Trump is not just deeply flawed as you said, he's also EXTREMELY DESTRUCTIVE and very, very DANGEROUS! He's destroying America. Impeach and remove this racist, lying, treasonous, illegitimate "president" now!

  79. Humiliation and ridicule are the key of getting Trump out of office. During the Impeachment trial prosecutors need to read Lindsey Graham's speeches on Impeachment. His "Cleanse the Office" is probably his best - any least that I am aware of. Speeches buy other "Respected Republicans" from the Clinton impeachment trial will also be impactful. During the time between the trial and the Convention (and Election) there needs to be a continual hammering of Trump's failings, from the Video of the Access Holly bragging to Stormy Daniels proving a short ad. And the most important factor will be all the evidence that is brought to the public, probably starting next week. News will be intensively studying and reporting everything coming our way. Humiliation and ridicule are the key - and it's going to be hardest on Trump's wife and youngest son.

  80. @Ken The Black Mirror’s first episode, “The National Anthem”, provides the perfect realization of the strategy you propose.

  81. @Ken I really don't think it will be hard on "I really don't care" Melania.

  82. Bret says that despite Trump's awfulness, there were "victories" that Never-Trumpers could revel in: Regulatory rollback. Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and all the lower court judges. Increased military spending. The tax cut. Withdrawal from the Iran deal. An expanded G.O.P. majority in the Senate. The Mueller fizzle. Let's look at these: regulatory rollback = more pollution. Gorsuch = the result of GOP repudiation of Senate norms. All the lower court judges = some of the worst qualified judges ever nominated; elimination of the norm of getting the Senators from the state approving the pick; increased military spending = bigger deficit; The tax cut = a much, much larger deficit; withdrawal from the Iran deal = Iran with nuclear weapons; an expanded GOP majority in the Senate = thank you power-mad GOP gerrymanderers; the Mueller fizzle = did you actually read the report? In other words, you can be a Trump acolyte or Anti-Trumper, but a conservative victory is bad for America, unless you like more pollution, a bigger deficit, a more dangerous world and a more authoritarian, less responsive government.

  83. @Ned Thanks for clarifying that ... I would have done so but not as well :)

  84. @Ned So I ask you, Ned, if the voters elected a Democratic President who raised taxes on the rich, promoted goals of environmental regulation and universal healthcare, appointed liberal judges etc., but was a scoundrel, daily violating ethical norms, the law and the Constitution, would you support impeachment? If your answer is not an unequivocal "yes" then your principles are no different than those of the GOP of Trump. Republicans who reject Trump are not going to change their minds on those issues, but they do hold to the principle that there are laws and ethical standards to which all leaders must adhere or face the consequences. Democrats will need to work with them to rid the US of the scourge. If all they do is push them away, then Trump will be around a long, long time.

  85. @Ned you are spot on. While there’s some truth to “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” I don’t share the Never Trumpers’ view of themselves as decent or having the high moral ground. The cult of Trump folks are mostly brainwashed, but the Never Trumpers are educated enough to know that the policies they have espoused all these years have done immeasurable damage to the poor and working class in this country. And as much as they profess to loathe 45, in a general election does anyone really think they’ll stay home or vote blue if Warren is the nominee?

  86. The only victory that can come out of this is if more talented and committed people enter the political fray than what exists today. That and some new laws targeting the kind of steamroll approach to decency, Democracy and the legal system that Trump has tried to utilize.

  87. Mr. Stephens, "At some level, conservatives know this. Trump knows they know it. Which explains why he has turned his sights on Never Trumpers: What despots and demagogues fear most is their followers developing a conscience." Sounds like what you're saying is that conservatives who are made up of fiscal & cultural & evangelical conservatives are not centered in morality and patriotism as long as they are getting what they want. Please tell us again why you, an intellectual, are a member of this party. Is it for all that de-regulation and tax cuts that, so obviously, have had deleterious effects? ...or all those other policies that have led to such egregious inequality?

  88. Republican senators really need to think about the optics of the trial. Not only are they older on average than Democratic senators, they’re also majority white male. McConnell, for example, has been a senator longer than a solid quarter of all voters have been alive. Chuck Grassley, now in charge of the Judiciary, has been in the Senate even longer than McConnell. Do they know that Never Trumpers exist in large numbers in the under-40 crowd, as well as among women in general? How is it going to look if 2 out of the 3 Republican women senators (Collins, Murkowski, Ernst) vote to convict him?

  89. @Corrie here are all the female Republican senators: Marsha Blackburn Shelley Moore Capito Susan Collins Joni Ernst Deb Fischer Martha McSally Lisa Murkowski Cindy Hyde-Smith How many of these women do you think would vote to convict? Would it be lower than 2 out of 3? Or higher? Because I can only count 2 for sure. Ernst is a possibility given what’s happening in Iowa. But the rest? What are the odds?

  90. @Corrie Are you saying 2 out of 3 as in possibly 5 of the 8 might vote to convict Trump? Even 1 out of 3 might be optimistic ... that would deliver 2 votes against Trump The most likely to vote against Trump (but not likely to do so) are Collins (vulnerable), Ernst (vulnerable), McSally (vulnerable) and Murkowski who might cast the one vote based on integrity. None of the above voted to condemn Trump's 'go home' remarks in July 2019. I believe all of the above have taken NRA money. To shift the odds of those I've listed to vote for impeachment would require at least a sign from 10 male GOP senators that Trump is vulnerable and/or guilty somewhere toward the end of the House hearings and, if it happens, shortly after coming before the Senate. Of course they will be obsessing on polls throughout and once backdoor exchanges intensify then we might start seeing significant if not sizable cracks appearing in the WH staff and the Senate. Of course the ongoing discussions with major donors will play hugely into this - as much or more than the views of their constituents. After all it is the GOP so the spots won't be exchanged for stripes but the canines will be retracted when smiling. Oh, yes, it's a must to isolate Collins from her sister female GOP senators ... she is the worse kind of poison, appearing benign while in fact absolutely lethal ... fingers crossed she is axed in the votes 2020.

  91. @Chuck Thank you for your comment about Susan Collins, one of my senators. She has been hiding behind the shield of being “centrist” for far too long. She lost me completely when she held a fund raiser for our despicable former governor, Paul LePage.

  92. If Senate Republicans vote to convict Mr. Trump, they get Mr. Pence. The vice president is infinitely more house-broken than Mr. Trump, and would be much more friendly with his party's elders. My sense is that there have been back channel discussions already between Mr. Pence and Mr. McConnell.

  93. @George Be careful what you wish for. With Pence you would get the same cruel and corporate favoring legislation, only this time with a slicker religious gloss.

  94. Anyone who is truly a Never Trumper should register and vote as a Democrat. Because the Republican Party is the Trump Party. What sense does it make to say you would never support Trump but still remain a member of HIS party?

  95. The GOP has proved to me they never believed anything they were peddling. I do not believe them on anything. They have proven that "conservatism" was only about enriching the wealthy, even if it meant exploiting the poor and the planet

  96. Republicans still can mount a formidable opposition to the president. Maybe at this point it's more like NeverAgainTrump, though. Anyway, a more umbrella term can pick up some who weren't with you initially but who now see how dangerous that man really is.

  97. So basically a Conservative who accepts the moral equivalent of 2+2=4 deserves a badge of honour, whereas mere Liberals who have always championed basic math are still somewhat beyond the pale. Thank you Stephens.

  98. I do agree, it is essential to have a working, hopefully relatively honest opposition in any true democracy. I'm sorry to think you may be teetering on the edge of failure here. Wake up America - we need you.

  99. Brexit. Let’s wake up together

  100. I think it's too much to hope that Bolton would expose Trump for what he is in this Ukrainian scandal. But I would love to be wrong.

  101. @SCZ I agree. I also think trump is more afraid of Bolton than any other of his pusillanimous current or previous advisors. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the trump minions had been reaching out to Bolton offering who know what in return for his non-cooperation with the inquiry. I guess it all depends on Bolton’s temper.

  102. All I could think of reading Bret Stephens' descriptions of the NeverTrumpers, full-on Trumpers, anti-anti-Trumpers, and all the varieties of conservatism was the routine from the Life of Brian about the Judean People's Front vs the People's Front of Judea. Stand back from all this intra-conservative bickering and you'll see that all of them share blame for Donald Trump being President, though people like Stephens will never admit that. Let's look at one piece of evidence: Sarah Palin. Palin was the official Republican Party nominee to be Vice President and one elderly man's heartbeat away from becoming President herself, and that was more than ten years ago. She would easily have been just as extreme and authoritarian as Trump, and in her particular case, just as embarrassing as Trump is. Yet I have no doubt that Bret Stephens of 2009 voted for her. This is the real danger, that even if Trump is somehow removed from office before he's turned us into a full on dictatorship, as he clearly intends to if he can, the next Republican extremist might not have the gauche, embarrassing qualities that people like Stephens and Bill Kristol object to. Conservatives have been sliding toward the extreme right for decades, and all of them, plus the false-equivalence-peddling media who convinced everyone that it wasn't happening, are to blame.

  103. "What despots and demagogues fear most is their followers developing a conscience." The problem intelligent people continue to have in understanding Trump is an insistence on assigning to him more intellectual depth than he possesses. Trump expends no energy whatever worrying about whether conservatives will develop a conscience. He doesn't even know what a conscience is. He does understand fear, but only in a primal sense. He understands both fear and loyalty. Trump knows that if Senate Republicans remain loyal to him on a partisan basis, he will survive impeachment. He also knows that partisan loyalty depends on GOP senators fearing retribution from his base. So Trump convenes political rallies in red states and informs his base that unquestioning loyalty to him is the only test that matters. If the base remains loyal to Trump, they will demand the same loyalty from their elected representatives, and those representatives will fear crossing them. That's all there is to it. The Never Trumpers are perhaps most important as harbingers of a new political alignment. Trumpism is hastening the collapse of traditional liberal/conservative distinctions. The new division is between those who believe in the sanctity of truthfulness and the primacy of constitutional principles, on the one hand, and the alternative universe of shameless opportunism on the other. In the emerging order ostensible differences in policies are becoming less important than a firm commitment to principle.

  104. Irrespective of what happens in 2020, we will/ never let republicans,evangelicals and conservatives forget how they repeatedly failed the test of basic human decency during the Trump years. Whatever they say about morality, honesty, family values, fiscal responsibility will have been proven to blatant lies and there will be endless video on the internet to prove it.

  105. @Sipa111 Absolutely spot on. Thank you

  106. Trump realizes that his most formidable opponent would be VP Biden because of several factors. Biden's broad experience, demeanor, temperament, are infinitely more attractive than that of Trump. If Warren wins the Democratic nomination against Biden, that is a huge win for Trump and it probably means Trump's reelection. That is what the quid pro quo with the Ukraine is all about: Sinking Biden's candidacy because Biden would likely be the only one to beat Trump in a general election.

  107. I have never been prouder to be a former Republican (and Never Trumper) after reading Stephens' 11/01/19 column. My decision to leave the Republican Party came when, during a state senate district caucus at our 2016 Republican state convention, our district state senator asked all precinct chairs (I was one) in the district to promise to support all Republican candidates on the general election ballot--no matter who was nominated at the Republican National Convention. By that time in 2016 (late May), it had become clear that Trump would be the 2016 Republican presidential candidate. I could not tolerate Trump's stand on immigration, equality, federal fiscal policy, environmental policy, energy policy, and a plethora of other issues. I saw in Trump demagoguery and misogyny, elitism and racism. Trump preached withdrawal of the United States from international relationships. Trump called for re-establishing Fortress America, an ideal that guided this nation's foreign policy after World War I (and contributed to the Great Depression). I could go on, but to do so only would make it more likely that I might need a respirator.

  108. @a href: Never Trumpers are themselves conspicuously silent when Trump's actions coincide with one of their own positions. That, to me, is what is meant by "opportunism". Remember this when the pundits next year say, "Yes, but [fill in name of Democrat] would bankrupt the country" or "hates Israel" or "wants to take away my health insurance". In their millions Americans will vote for Trump again, and as in 2016 many will deny having done so.

  109. @Martin Daly But even Democrats, much less NeverTrumpers, along with his acolytes and admirers, agree with Trump on ending US participation in endless wars. Other issues that come to mind on which agreement is quite broad are ending vape flavoring except tobacco and menthol, repairing damage done by opioid addiction.

  110. Does this mean Bret Stephens is going to spend his time trying to take back his party? Or is he going to continue to try and convince Democrats to abandon their principles? The one thing about the Never Trump movement is that they could never offer a consistent political agenda. They never seem to stand for anything... I couldn't tell you where they stand on trade, budget, rule of law, foreign affairs. Oh, I know what they are against. But honestly, they aren't for anything... They are just critics. They can't do, they can't teach, so they bloviate.

  111. @Edward Brennan, Point taken. But compared to what? What do Republicans stand for under Trump? Whatever the president has mainlined from TV that morning. What do Democrats stand for? There is still the ongoing debate between the moderate and left-wing of the party. The exception to this general rule of uncertainty seems to be foreign policy. Where both parties are committed to American commitments abroad forever.

  112. @Edward Brennan Sorry, Edward, but it seems to me you are confused. What you've just described.."I couldn't tell you where they stand on trade, budget, rule of law, foreign affairs."...is the perfect description of the Trump GOP. And even more so, the perfect description of the Donald Trump administration.

  113. @Edward Brennan What principles do Dems have? They don’t all agree on abortion, immigration, health care, and the military.

  114. The Never Trumpers need to coalesce and deliver the message. Classical "conservatism" -- which includes conservative attitudes toward debt and a value system which places country over party - is a necessary component of a healthy democracy. We do not have a healthy democracy now--it's not just the Never Trumpers who are on life support, but our entire Constitutional system of government. Democrats alone cannot rescue it. It's time for conservatives like McMasters, Kelly, Tillerson and Mattis to speak up in defense of our democracy. Until enough "respectable" conservatives can do that as a untied group, Trump will continue to pick them off one by one, the voters will continue to be fooled, and we may stuck with Donald Trump for the rest of his life.

  115. 4 unpatriotic cowards... posers. Useless citizens

  116. @Tullymd Their silence in the face of this truly is unpatriotic. A public official's duty is to uphold the Constitution, not protect a lawless president.

  117. Gorsuch and Kavanaugh voted for the SC to deny appeals about gerrymandering. Henceforth, all parties should now gerrymander or risk being gerrymandered out. Of course some people just won't, and so power accrues to the least scrupulous. Do you really revel in that fate for the USA?

  118. @Craig H. In a race to the bottom of the barrel the wise racer lets the other racers get way out in front

  119. It is a great pleasure to read the commentary of someone whose views I often disagree with. Mr. Stephens has been a clear and steady voice for conservative views and perspectives, which is sorely needed in the NYT. In the larger scheme, it's funny how differing views and perspectives can find common cause. Many of us now agree that Trump must go.

  120. @Tom Harrison But why now? Donald Trump is exactly the same man conservatives voted for, I don't see any change in his character.

  121. @Tom Harrison This concept of the NeverTrumpers is a sad joke. They went Hillary bashing in the summer of 2016 along with the author of this piece. If they had a shred of decency, they would apologize for helping to elect the most anti-American President in modern times. Every intelligent person could see what a travesty a Trump Presidency would turn out to be. Conservatism has has become a cloak for the rule by the few, the 1%.

  122. At sometime between the end of the House vote to impeach and the end of the Senate trial I expect that Mitch, Pence and others in the GOP will go to Trump and lay out the facts that he will lose the election, the GOP will not regain the House and may lose the Senate. They will try to convince him that retirement is a better choice than defeat. If he refuses and goes on an extreme temper tantrum on Twitter they may decide to invoke the 25th Amendment rather than finish the trial. That is the only way that the GOP will recover from this cesspit.

  123. @Brad Who is this "they" who will invoke the 25th Amendment? Go read the 25th Amendment. The relevant section establishes that "Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President." Congress has not "by law" provided any other initiating body for this declaration. So the 25th Amendment can only be set in motion by the President's own Cabinet. You may have noticed that any Trump appointee who shows signs of independent thinking does not long remain in his or her job. Not only that, but their boss exacts from them, from time to time, ritualized recitations of praise for his greatness. What are the chances of a majority of these hollowed-out toadies ever sending Nancy Pelosi an official declaration that their boss is incapable of carrying out his duties? And even if they did, the 25th Amendment allows the President to send out a counter-declaration, which, to be overridden, requires a 2/3 vote of both Houses. That's a higher bar than impeachment. Invoking the 25th is a pipe dream.

  124. @Brad Interesting scenario. Never, ever, ever happen. McConnell has his own problems in Kentucky and he’d never take the chance that an angry Trump would encourage someone to primary him. Republicans are ALL IN FOR TRUMP. They lost their integrity and courage long ago.

  125. Brad: Do you think Trump cares what happens to Republicans as a whole? What you describe worked in the case of Nixon. It won’t work with someone who is a Johnny-come-lately to the GOP, and for whom loyalty is a one-way street.

  126. Mr. Stephens writes: "The decency of being scandalized is what being NeverTrump is centrally about.... It’s the opposite of the opportunism required to go along with the president because you might get something out of him." Which faction of the Republican Party or of the Conservative movement, each with it special interest in taxes and loopholes, or in foreign-policy hobby-horses or scurrilous prejudices, has not descended to opportunism during the Trump administration? If, as I propose, the answer is "none", we need to look elsewhere than the editorial pages of the mainstream press to find "the decency of being scandalized".

  127. Every week Bret Stephens desperately wants to convince readers that conservatives stand for all that is good and right. He wants readers to know that most Americans hold those values, and that the center and left are a naive anomaly out of step with America. Fine. But then he insists that--while Trump is not only an embarrassing mess ruining our country, but is breaking the rule of law--congress should do nothing, and that Americans should support that. That is where Stephen's argument breaks down. You can't claim to stand for something if you do nothing. You are judged by your actions. At the moment, conservatives are approving unqualified judges. They are holding legislation hostage in the Senate. They are gerrymandering and preventing voting. And their president is running roughshod over the Constitution and the best interests of America while conservatives justify each action at every step. Actually do something that supports your purported values and I'll begin to respect conservatives again.

  128. @Tom Triumph Those who act as you describe in your third paragraph are not true conservatives and therein lies the problem.

  129. I look back at the Republican Party and I can find three presidents that I believe did more good for America than harm, just three. Those are Lincoln, T.R., and Eisenhower. Look at Lincoln’s beliefs away from the Civil War. He was a Free Soil politician, who wanted real dignity for the working man. He was much closer to being a socialist than F.D.R. or J.F.K. Just read some of his speeches and writings from the early 1850s. The real Republican Party tried to sideline T.R. and get him out of the limelight of being the Governor of New York by making him V.P. And then McKinley was assassinated. He worked to break up the trusts, he worked for conservation, he worked for protection for the working man against the bosses of the Gilded Age. Eisenhower worked to put America on a solid footing following the two wars. He warned against the military industrial complex when he left office. While it took some persuasion, he ordered the paratroopers to escort the Little Rock nine at Central High. And don’t turn to Reagan. Here’s a quote from Reagan, “Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.” He said that not while he was president of the Screen Actors Guild, but Labor Day 1980 while running for president. And then, his first big action, destroying a union and collective bargaining with the air traffic controllers. The rest, well, “The business of America is Business”, “I am not a crook”, WMDs and W, and now, Trump.

  130. @AS Pruyn Lincoln spoke as a socialist in the 1850s because Republicans were the liberals of the 19th century. Democrats were the conservatives. Now, the roles are reversed; so that today's GOP cannot claim to be the heirs of the Lincoln legacy. They are, instead, heirs of the Confederacy. Just look at who waves and loves the confederate flag the most.

  131. @AS Pruyn The intellectual T. Roosevelt is overlooked. You should have mentioned his autobiography section on Industrial Justice and his Kansas speech on New Nationalism. But I agree with you.

  132. @AS Pruyn FDR and Medicare.

  133. Bret, perhaps you are correct, I hope you are correct. However, you should write about the moral character and base compromises of Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, and other high profile defenders of the president. Their moral standing, if there ever was one, is completely destroyed. Their proclaimed service to the country is a sham. Morality has an imperative, and these two plus a legion of other have failed that test.

  134. And by the way, to all of those forever Trumpers who read Bret's piece and thought calling Trump a "nativist Libertine" was a complement (it does after all sound pretty swashbuckling and bold). It wasn't.

  135. The impeachment trial will in truth be trial for America. Can America as a society, allow Donald Trump to survive what he has done? The Republicans can spout their kool aid driven delusions about his innocence. They can do that all day and all night, shouting at the mountaintops. But it is up to the American people to discern the truth from the public testimony of battle tested military officers and our most skilled, experienced and reputable foreign service officers. If that isn't enough to persuade them then we should be ashamed of ourselves as a nation. Trump is and was a national disgrace, as Colin Powell said in a private email before Trump's election. Nothing has changed. The public has to transcend Fox News and tell the Republican Senate the truth.

  136. The premise that Hillary lost is false. EVEN IF you exclude the distortions of Russian stealth propaganda and outright voter suppression THEN you still have to ask: were actual votes in the crucial unexpected victory states hacked? No one is seriously investigating that last possibility even as the depth of Russia's involvement in the 2016 "upset" becomes more and more apparent. Oceans of commentarial ink continue` to pour out of these pages and others. Why don't we just openly talk about the obvious falsity of the premise that Trump won? Everyone seems to be resigned to the proposition that the only way a Democrat will be allowed to win is with a landslide, even though the alternative is autocratic takeover of our democracy. The triumph of Trump's crude disregard for principle is one of the horrors of our time, but blithe acquiescence to the dubious premises that he "won" is a completely gratuitous tragedy. Trump understands that this is his Achilles’ heel. That is why he howls so at the slightest whisper about his illegitimacy. He probably can't believe we're letting him get away with the crime.

  137. @Phil If the political establishment admitted the 2016 election results were undermined, the GOP would have to admit to their role in undermining the election. Their role was blocking Obama from warning the public about Russian interference prior to the election; their refusal to secure the voting machines; their assistance in voter suppression, (there hasn’t been a single investigation into whether hackers destroyed thousands of democratic voters registrations in midwestern states); and their steadfast refusal to do anything to ensure future federal elections are secure. Democrats would have to admit their complete inability to unify behind a message of corruption that undermined the 2016 election; their failure to push back on the Clinton investigations and to state clearly that Comey had been compromised by the Mercers and their book of lies, Clinton Cash, which had been widely distributed to the NY office of the FBI, they failed while in power to stiop the corruption being carried out among the rank and file at the FBI under Comey’s watch. So you see, it really isn’t in the interest of the established political class to admit the 2016 election was illegitimate, but to carry on as if we’re all too stupid to put all the pieces together and see that all any of them really care about is retaining their own power and positions.

  138. Never Trumpers deserve a lot of respect. It is not easy to walk away from your friends, your folkways, and your access to power. Democrats should welcome every last one of them with open arms. But we should reserve our greatest scorn for those who have a conscience, but no mouth to express it, or those who take cover behind those few republicans who may do the right thing. They are moral failures, and deserve no role in the reconciliation to come.

  139. @Theo Baker Agreed. I don't under liberals' disdain for people like Stephens. His policies are idiotically conservative, and on foreign policy questions the guy is the poster boy for endless wars. But at least his character is in tact. It's a distinction liberals seem unable to grasp.

  140. @Theo Baker Bret and the other Never Trumpers need to do more than talk; they need to vote for the Democratic nominee for president. Ultimately, the choice is between two people who are not either equally good or bad. While I’m sure that they might be disposed to vote for a moderate Democrat, I don’t think that they can argue that having Warren or Sanders as president would be worse than four more years of Trump. I believe that it is their patriotic duty to make this “lesser of the evils” choice.

  141. @Laurence Bachmann ….His character may be in tact, but where is his resolve? Because of what his philosophy has wrought, intended or not, he and those like him carry the greatest responsibility for the mess we are in. You don't fight evil in small measure. There is no room for any equivocation. Instead of talking softly he should have been screaming from the roof tops long ago.

  142. I was born and raised in a blue state, in a Congressional district that became red enough to elect Steve King, arguably the single worst person in DC. So I think I have a gut-level feeling about what's happening in this country. Every "rally" that Trump holds, with his endless, mindless braying to his MAGA-hatted acolytes, tears the country further apart. Meanwhile, the Democrats are typically split. Some think only a progressive can win. Others are sure we need a moderate. Still more think that all the present candidates are losers and we need someone new to ride in on a white horse. But who would that be? Some think past candidates or almost-candidates are the solution. Others think it must be someone new and untested. The result? Speaking for myself, I'm scared.

  143. @bnyc Don't be scared. You know darned good and well that any democrat running would do a better job than Trump. You know that listening to ideas for making life better for as many of us as possible is a better approach to closing your eyes and throwing money at the ultra rich in the hope that they might drop some on us, which they won't. The dems will nominate someone and will form a platform, and the nominee and the platform will be better than the empty con job Trump will give us again. Don't be scared. Suck it up and vote blue.

  144. So there are 'Conservatives with consciences' after all. You could have fooled me because that requires flip-flopping 'party over country' and accepting that re-election prospects will possibly suffer. Odd, that taking a stand to preserve the Constitution and safeguard the nation may cost you your job, when in fact it should save it. The lack of courage in standing up to Trump is a broader indication of where the Republican party has failed both itself and supporters. What exactly are GOP Congressionals afraid of? Being labelled with a nasty nickname from the most reviled US President in history? Being publicly humiliated at one of Trump's carefully screened and vetted rallies? Being eviscerated by a President who lacks the courage to read newspapers critical of him? I'm beyond puzzled as to how can they be so terrified of a man whose future they hold in their hands.

  145. @Tom I think the likely answer is: fear of loosing some revenue stream.

  146. They are afraid of not being re-elected by Trump’s base, and rightly so. I wish they would think more about their legacy than the next election.

  147. @Elizabeth Hillard I wish they would think more about the county than their next election.

  148. Methinks Bret doth protest too much. Donald Trump is nothing new. He personifies the actual endgame of Republican philosophy since Ronald Reagan. You may remember the demagogue who said, ""The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." Then there was Newt Gingrich and his "Contract with America", which was nothing more than Trump Lite, and full of almost as many Trump lies. George Bush and his custody of the failed Iraq war, the failed response to Hurricane Katrina, and his failed economics which brought us the Great Recession. And what about Mitch McConnell, Brett? Remember, his one goal as Senate Minority Leader was to make Obama a one term president. Paul Ryan with his cooked books promising that the more taxes were lowered for the rich, the more the middle class would benefit and the more the deficit would decline. How many Democrats want to end Social Security and Medicare? I can count dozens of Republicans. Seriously, Bret. The list goes on and on. When did the Republican Party since Eisenhower actually accomplish anything? Trump may be the worst of the worst, but he is just the natural extension of all that the GOP stands for: failure.

  149. I have to point out that Nixon did sign the Clean Air Act into law along with other environmental initiatives.

  150. @MarcosDean Thank you for these great observations. But please don't totally exonerate Democrats. Here is why: Elizabeth Drew wrote a book called The Politics of Money in the 80's. She noted the increased campaign donations and the huge advantage the GOP had. Clearly the rich and corporations had had enough of the restraints of the New Deal, social responsibility and shared prosperity with workers. The triangulating Clinton crowd took note. Under them, after campaign reform failed, they embraced the GOP model, but with retaining more of a social conscience. That said, they still made trade agreements disasterous for labor and you can find pictures of Bill smiling with Phil and Weny Gramm as he signed off on the barrier between commercial and investment banking. The casino was now open and he was as responsible as Bush for 2008. Be careful abour being partisan as it has its limits. When it blinds you to the reality that the system is rotten and wealth inequality grows under both parties, partisanship, instead of creating solutions, just keeps us in place while our national wealth resides in fewer hands and democracy dies. We need to aim higher than just denying power to the other party. We need to have a plan to reclaim our economy and our democracy from donors and reclaim the voice bequeathed to us by those who created this once noble experiment.

  151. @MarcosDean There is policy and there are the means to achieving it. I am a moderate Democrat. I am happy to debate policy with anyone about tax rates, regulations, healthcare, immigration policy, whatever... BUT what Trump has done has damage civility in this country, turning every issue into a zero-sum game. He has debased the office of the presidency and our ability as a country to try to find meaningful compromise. By the way, President Nixon establishment of the EPA, and George W. Bush's work on AIDS are two very positive contributions by Republicans.

  152. This is a great piece. There are two sentences I would like to quote followed by my proverbial two cents' worth. But fear not, Bret, they are shiny, new pennies. The first: "If the few remaining NeverTrump conservatives can still be that dangerous while we are on respirators..." For those who may have overlooked one pronoun - "we" - I did not. Thank you, sir, I like that. The next quote, one which is indeed profound and most reassuring is: "The decency of being scandalized is what being NeverTrump is centrally about..." That, that decency, that moral compass and sense of what is ethical, is the root of a just, equal, secure, and good democratic society. I can not express enough how disheartened, fearful, and, yes, angry, I have been these last few nightmarish years. Trump is irredeemable, a lost soul if he even has one. His Cabinet and too many of his followers in Congress have also lost their way. But it is the hate and ignorance around me, among my relatives, acquaintances, and in my community that is ominous and threatening. So, I say to those NeverTrumpers, speak up, do not fear. We are with you. We need you.

  153. If the voting public hasn’t figured the President out yet, then we’re in for 4 more years of this depravity. This election, come November 2020, isn’t a referendum on Trump or whomever the Democrats finally nominate. It’s a referendum on us, No democracy can function with an ill informed, naive, gullible, electorate. We can thank Trump for one thing. He has shown us how vulnerable our 240 year old democracy is. Or any democracy.

  154. Hold a place for the the responsible and genuine conservatives. The reactionary populism posing as conservatism is taking us into ruin as a nation.

  155. @FactionOfOne When conservatism and what conservatives call "socialism" in this country (which isn't really socialism) are combined and each used to its best together in one of those mythical American melting pots, we might actually be a country worth praising and a democracy worth saving. Let Trump win again in 2020 and it will be like shooting an injured horse in the head. We won't be worth fixing until Trump and Trumpism is out of power.

  156. @Brookhawk On point

  157. "It could motivate John Bolton (a born-again Never Trumper, ...and everyone else who made the mistake of working for this president) to deliver what may yet be the most devastating insider’s indictment of the president’s shameless shadow foreign policy." The key word is mistake. These are not stupid people, but they thought they could influence Trump. Not only did they not influence Trump but they wound up being humiliated. There is no guarantee that Bolton will testify. He certainly is on record as saying that he won't do it voluntarily. Profile in courage, he is not. Whether a subpoena will force him to testify remains unclear. Even he testifies, whether he'll squeal on Trump or save the juicy parts for a book that he is supposedly writing remains to be seen.

  158. Most frustrating is the fact that if House and Senate Republicans could vote *anonymously* for impeachment, Trump would be gone so fast that his head would spin.

  159. Why can't they? It's been a while, but I don't recall that in the Constitution. If the House can decide what rules to follow for each investigation why can't the Senate decide new rules for each trial?

  160. @Laura That would work in the House. But in the Senate the *open* vote to change the rules would effectively expose those Republicans eager to be rid of Trump but unwilling to be identified.

  161. "What despots and demagogues fear most is their followers developing a conscience." That's a great concept. Call it "waking up," call it "noticing," call it "seeing the connection," call it whatever you like, this is why tribes terrify their children: when children discover they have souls a/k/a free will they can see over the walls and fences built around them and then they blow whistles or emigrate. Good job, Mr. Stephens.

  162. I guess Hillary (and the Never Trumpers) were right from the beginning: Trump is unfit to be president, and the world will never be the same. It's small comfort to think history will not be kind to the whole lot of his born-again apologists. Trump is right, though, to suggest that impeachment will be in the first line of his obituary. Cold comfort indeed.

  163. @Rob The NYT has Trump's obit already written (it has obits written for practically everyone of note so they can grab them, mark them up fast, and go with them). I wonder how it reads today?

  164. There is absolutely nothing that Trump says that shouldn’t be considered a self-serving lie. Why waste the time with him? Unfortunately, he’s the president. But he’s not us in any way at all. What could be more plain?

  165. Republicans should see impeachment as an opportunity to cleanse their party of Trump. It’s well known that most members of the GOP fear Trump but few feel respect, admiration or friendship toward him. If the senators band together as a group and vote to convict Trump for his open abuse of power, they could rid the country of this criminal president. Even if Trump Twitters nasty remarks about all the GOP senators up for re-election, his words would not have the same weight if he was convicted. And the GOP could show they care more about country than party. And perhaps start to rebuild their party. Pence certainly isn’t as disliked as Trump and might even have a chance to win the 2020 election. To paraphrase Trump, what do the Republicans have to lose?

  166. @Barbara The problem with Pence is no charisma. The message of the Trump GOP is so bankrupt that it takes someone with bluster and no fear of lying to continuously spout it out while keeping his minions in line through even more fear than he tries to wave over the rest of us. Without fear to wave like a sword, Trump is nothing. Pence would simply be a placeholder while the GOP figures out what it will be going forward. The GOP ought to know by now that it's NOT going forward if they don't think way beyond Trump. If Trump drops dead tomorrow from that heart failure that's coming, the GOP would be a complete mess until they actually decided to form principles acceptable to more than just the Trump base, and the GOP seems little prepared to do that.

  167. It's funny that the Never Trumpers are both simultaneously irrelevant and without influence, and also such troublemakers that they need to be denounced and eradicated. As someone who left the GOP when Trump clinched the nomination, I am always annoyed by sanctimonious liberals who blame Never Trumpers for creating the Republican Party that gave rise to a nasty charlatan like Trump. If that were true, the NT's would join the other party members who have sold their souls for judges, tax cuts and deregulation. Instead they have a moral grounding, and they have stuck with it. Trump, or someone like him, was not an inevitable result for the GOP. In fact, he is not a Republican and certainly not a conservative. He co-opted the party, believing in nothing but himself and his brand, and wanting revenge on Barack Obama for publicly ridiculing him. There were initially many Republicans who did not want him as the GOP candidate, and certainly did not want him as their president. And that remains true for the Never Trumpers. Hate on the those who capitulated, but the NT's share the left's disdain for Trump. Why blame and criticize them when it makes more sense to follow that old wisdom about the enemy of my enemy being a friend?

  168. What's scary for moderates is that Trump's incompetence might lead to a win for a leftist like Warren or Saunders. Hard to know. If he stays on the ballot, maybe the Democrats will nominate a moderate to defeat him, who will hopefully win.

  169. @LED America is the only developed country in the world that lacks all the services that centrist countries all over the world take for granted. There is nothing leftist about Norway Sweden Canada New Zealand..

  170. It has been a long way down to Trump. It's not quite a vindication for those conservatives who waited until Trump, to finally "stand athwart history, yelling Stop!"

  171. If the GOP is smart, they should dump Trump and run someone like John Kasich. The Democrats candidates are either too old, too young or too much to the left of center.

  172. @San mao Kasich would beat any Democrat. But the GOP is not smart.

  173. @San mao John Kasich only looks reasonable standing next to trump. Look a little deeper into his politics and actions and you will find out he’s a typical republican. His support of the ACA was anomalous. Anti Choice, anti regulatory protections, pro-charter schools, etc., etc.

  174. I suspect that most "never Trumpers" were convinced that Trump would lose in the 2016 election and were pro forma positioning themselves as the rational adults who would lead the Republicans away from their temporary insanity. Then, Trump won. As Mr. Trump increasingly displays his unfitness for office, the former "never Trumpers" are correspondingly revealed as pathetic opportunists.

  175. To paraphrase H. Beam Piper: "power is more addictive than crack cocaine". Trump is high on power and blind to honour, ethics and risk. He would pit his supporters in open battle against his opponents to spend another day in the presidency. No autocrat in history has ever willingly relinquished power: it was either coerced from them by overwhelming force; or torn from their dying hands. The "conservatives" realise this but do not have the courage to move; the consequences of failure being (political) death.

  176. @Philip Brown Mikhail Gorbachev gave up power willingly to the people. To me, he was the Man of the Century.

  177. The Republicans are like gamblers when it comes to Trump. They keep throwing the dice in hopes of remaining winners. Yet Trump would appear to be just one roll away from total loss. How many times has he had to walk back a disastrous plan only because someone was able to stop him. Surely they understand this about Trump.

  178. Trump has exposed the moral rot that was already at the core of American conservatives. His vulgarity and open disdain for democratic norms may have been too much for the true believers in conservative nostrums like reducing the role of government in social services (never the military or law enforcement), regulating markets while increasing its oppression of women choice. Trump exposed the astronomical hypocrisy of Republican conservatives, who have courted the religious right obsession on abortion, exploited the prejudices of the less well healed while showering bounties on the rich funding their political campaigns. When those things were pursued without much fanfare never Trumpers never objected. If Trump had not been so inept, so crude and so willing to insult any one not in awe of his brilliance the never Trumpers would not exist.

  179. As a committed conservative, Bret Stephens offers an interesting perspective on Never Trumpers, but there is an alternative understanding which may be more compelling. While people like Bill Kristol, Max Boot, and Mona Charen--as well as Stephens himself--have proven that it is possible to be both conscientious and conservative, more typical cases of what conservatism has become can be found in the dramatic reversals of Senators Cruz, Graham, and Rubio. To compare how these three once expressed completely justified scorn for Trump with how they gladly kiss his feet now, exposes them as hypocrites and opportunists who will always surrender principle in order to keep power. Unfortunately, the danger of Trumpism is far from over, as the prospect of his imminent impeachment present two stark alternatives: either his removal from office for treason, or the collapse of the institutions on which American democracy depends. As we now witness, Republicans aren't saying "Never Trump!". They're saying long may he live.

  180. The pusillanimous behavior of the Republican party has turned me into a never Republicaner. That will *never* change. Yes, I was biased against the party already due to 40 years of attacking sound social and fiscal policies, but the 2016 election and its aftermath were jumping the shark. The fact that no credible alternative party developed, taking a sizable portion of the Republican electorate along with it was sufficient evidence for me that there is nothing worth saving there.

  181. I share your “never republican” sentiment and I have voted republican in my lifetime. That none of them in Congress find his acts more than objectionable is stunning. I truly wonder if it was a Dem would no Dem condemn the actions? The disingenuous outrage over his “unfair” treatment is exhausting and disheartening.

  182. One wonders why former Trump officials, some with previous distinguished careers, are still holding back on dishing the dirt. Are they doing it out of some one-sided sense of loyalty to the office or the man? Were they forced to sign NDAs? Or is it that they themselves took part in, or witnessed, things they would rather not have aired if they open their mouths? Whatever it is, something doesn't smell right.

  183. @Ladybug Excellent questions, Ladybug! I've been pondering them myself.

  184. Spoken the restraint of a soap opera script rejected for cutting too close to the bone. That smell you mention has been rising from the dark hole where Trump’s tax returns have cowered from day one of his clan’s soiling presence in the White House and in the minds of the nation.

  185. @Ladybug Why are former Trump officials staying quiet? Answer: Money & guilt They saw bad things, probably illegal stuff; definitely immnoral acts.... but they chose personal wealth and comfort over our nation: book deals, cushy jobs on company boards as well as lucrative jobs at think tanks and lobbying firms. It is not only the thought of suffering the ire of Trump that keeps them in check...but is the specter of losing possible future employment as well as being revealed to have participate unethical/criminal activities This what a crime syndicate looks like

  186. Lt. Colonel Vindman's patriotism and service to his country has lately reminded me of my grandfather, also a Ukrainian immigrant and also a Lt. Colonel, who served under Gen. MacArthur's command during the Second World War. Here is what my grandfather wrote after the surrender ceremony on the Battleship Missouri: "Ordinarily I take my patriotism in small doses, but this is one time I wanted to get up and shout from the housetop, that I am proud to be a member of the finest Army in the world." When Republicans attacked Col. Vindman and questioned his patriotism, I felt the memory of my grandfather was being attacked. My own anger surprised me. But it shouldn't have. To stand by Trump means, sooner or later, to denigrate all that we value and honor in this world.

  187. @David David, this is beautifully written. And what a wonderful man your grandfather was. My husband’s mother immigrated from the Ukraine right after WW1. Her oldest son fought in the Battle of the Bulge during the following world war. I am glad neither are alive to witness the disgrace of Mr. Trump.

  188. @David Trump demands personal loyalty from his entourage, which means utter abandonment of all moral values. He is then as likely as not to throw you to the wolves anyway once circumstances demand it. At that stage you have lost your reputation, your honour and your job. What you tolerate you promote. Those who tolerate his corruption and lies do indeed promote that behaviour. Those who cover it up are reprehensible and surely must know themselves to be as much.

  189. @David - Reading your poignant comment sent shivers down my spine. Just as an aside, my father fought in WWII in the Pacific theater. My uncle was a Marine who fought in the trenches. These men are true patriots and, just as your Grandfather, embody the finest & most heroic essence of the USA. Now we have a traitor in the White House whose family never chose to fight in a war to uphold our country's values. In fact, as President, he is doing everything in his power to undermine what makes America great. To echo your chilling words: "To stand by Trump means, sooner or later, to denigrate all that we value and honor in this world".

  190. Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, and people who don’t like Trump vs socialism, or progressivism will vote for him anyway. An older AOC might win DC and California. The election has not become a like or dislike Trump, it is do you want America to be what has always been, or tear it apart because of Trump. People will choose country over destruction. The wholesale destruction of America as it exist will not be voted away because of Trump. A sober electorate has a simple choice. Like him or not, if Democrat challengers get half of what they campaign for, our country, our economy, and our belief in the rights granted by our constitution will be lost forever. Take that to the ballot box Mr Stephens.

  191. @Jay Do you really really believe that an elected Democrat will do away with free market capitalism? Has any European country which provides universal health care for everyone of its citizens ever done away with free market capitalism? Sweden, often cited as they kind of country we do not want to become, has a very healthy and capitalistic society. Sure, everyone pays more taxes but they get a lot for those increased taxes. Believe me, providing a more secure safety net does not kill capitalism. I live in one of those countries and capitalism seems alive and well to me. Also personal freedom and freedom of the press prosper. Just what do you fear from a presidential candidate who advocates universal health care coverage, almost free public education through university for those who qualify, and efforts to cut down on CO2 emissions? This is a serious question. I do not know what you fear.

  192. @Jay Trump does not represent an "America as it has always been". He represents a man who believes that a president has absolute unconditional power. For example, can you imagine any previous president of the U.S. awarding a lucrative government contract to his OWN business? Can you imagine any previous president of the U.S. deploying troops based not on American interests, but on whether the country to which they are being deployed will pay to rent them? Ronald Regan is rolling over in his grave. You're right- people will choose country over destruction of a democracy. And they will vote out the man who thinks he is a king.

  193. @Harold Johnson Sweden, like any country that has an economic system that eschews unfettered capitalism, presents the danger of the good example. Many years ago as I was growing up in the U.S., the benefits that accrued to the Swedes were said to lead to the highest suicide rate in the world. After decades of relentless Cold War propaganda, "American Exceptionalism" chest pounding, and Swedish suicide skeleton rattling, is it any wonder that the bewildered herd is afraid? This mythology still resonates with many Americans, to the extent that they prefer opening their wallets wide to pay for endless wars and weapons of mass destruction rather than pay taxes for human welfare (the most obscene word in American English), or even to save the planet for future generations. For years I have lived in a small European country that was the most bombed place on Earth during World War 2. It has a mixed economy, excellent universal health care, stipends for students in high school and university to ensure that they devote all their attention to their studies rather than economic struggles. This is the type of freedom of which many Americans are afraid. In contrast, the militarized United States acts as if it were the most bombed place on Earth, creating enemies to maintain in perpetuity a perversion of military Keynesianism that has been extant since 1941. Constant fear is an organizing principle of America, but aren't fear and freedom mutually exclusive?

  194. The vote in the house was 232 to 196, all Republicans in voting against passage. Fallen never Trumpers included. I don't know whether you have any compatriots you can count on, Mr. Stephens.

  195. Three years on, I’m still waiting to encounter any serious consideration from any never-Trump Republican of what makes GOP voters so vulnerable to such a flamboyantly phony con-artist. Like the Democrats or loathe them (I fall somewhere in between), no one imagines that they could suddenly nominate someone that superficial, that unaccomplished & that dishonest (someone once suggested to me that the Democratic equivalent of Trump would be nominating Madonna for president, but the fact that she actually is a successful business person makes the comparison weak). I really wish one of you who hasn’t drunk the Kool-Aid would dig deep & share some thoughts about what makes GOP voters so gullible & GOP politicians so unprincipled. Or do you imagine it’s Obama’s fault?

  196. The bottom line: 'Never Trump" love his policies, do not like his face or his foreign policies (they prefer much more aggressive style).

  197. My country is suffering from Trump's grand illusion of a peace 'deal' with North Korea, and this is enough for me to wish the Trump will go away soon. My respects to the NeverTrumper who stood their ground thus far -- you've been right all along.

  198. Your colleague Gail Collins has been offering a contest among trump's "Cabinet" members, most "acting", all woefully inept. This is where the 25th comes from? The Founders, as bright and forward thinking as they were, never imagined anything like this mess.

  199. @Howard Clark The only part the founders did not imagine was the craven character of the Republican Senate. They thought they had built a system to safeguard against a bad executive, no matter how bad. It never occurred to them that it was possible for an executive determined to take American politics from bad to worse to use that as a tool to corrupt the Senate. Before now, nobody else had imagined that either.

  200. @S.P. True that they are all cowardly beyond even the men with average courage of 1776.

  201. S.P. The Senate was created by the most revered FF to keep the rabble at bay. It is a deliberative body designed to inhibit any progress or policies put forth by the House of Representatives, the People's House. This is illustrated by an apocryphal conversation between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson comparing the Senate to the saucer into which Jefferson had poured his hot tea (or coffee, it's apocryphal, so it doesn't matter) to cool. Washington thought that the political passions of the mob were likewise too hot and another legislative body was required for restraint. The Senate is performing exactly as it was designed to function, albeit in extremis under the leadership of the grotesque Mitch McConnell. Of course, it's a moot point insofar as both the House and Senate are paid by the same corporations and PACs, and the people be damned.

  202. Donald Trump has not yet plumbed the depths of Republican rot. The vast majority of elected Republicans will still give Trump everything he wants, from misogyny to racism to xenophobia to treason as long as (a) they can stay in office and (b) he gives them tax cuts and extreme-right "originalist" judges.

  203. "Bottomlessly dishonorable" is how you classically described Donald Trump in an August 31, 2018 op-ed. Where was the amen chorus of "Never Trumpers" who wholeheartedly agreed with you then? Now, they're just getting ahead of the curve. Republicans have no honor and less patriotism. They're mostly "All-in Trumpers" with some on the sidelines, the worst place for anyone with a spine to be. I rest my case.

  204. Power corrupts. Money corrupts absolutely. Republicans have sold their souls. They have no principles only a price.

  205. There is one key problem with Never Trump Republicans: they are worse even than Trump. All they say of Trump is true. It largely agrees with Democrats on that. However, Never Trump Republicans are the people so awful that even Trump beat them soundly. They are the very Devil Himself, like Ted Cruz, and complete sell outs to corporate evil like Jeb. They have no redeming virtues. Just being against Trump is not enough to make them serious people again.

  206. As an anti-Trump Republican from the beginning.....I feel totally vindicated. And I wish I had been wrong. But Trump is clearly temperamentally unsuitable to be President.....full stop. My concern now is that he could be leading the Republican Party into a debacle.....costing us the Senate. Or am I missing something here?

  207. The only Republicans and conservatives I respect are the ones who were appalled by Trump’s election in 2016 and continue to express outrage at his presidency. The others don’t really care about the country. They just look out for themselves. If the polls start to really break against Trump in a big way with republicans, you will see them crawl out from under their rocks to voice their discontent with Trump. Otherwise, it will be crickets. Keep your eye on Nicki Haley as a prime example. There is always talk of her running for President. Has she expressed any outrage at what Trump has done thus far? Of course not. She is one of the spineless republicans who are hiding until it’s safe to come out. But when Trump is done, she and all those other fair weather Trumpers will express their outrage at his presidency. And to them I say “too little too late.” You have forfeited the right to participate in our democracy. Stay under your rock.

  208. Long after Trump is gone we will still be stuck with tens of millions of republicans who continued to support him despite every disgusting act, every twisted word, very evil turn, and every obvious lie. In the end that is the great tragedy of Donald Trump: not what kind of person he is, but what kind of nation he has revealed we are.

  209. And then there are those of us who know that, aside from the vulgarity and self-dealing, Trump is no worse than any other Republican. Do the Never Trumpers really believe Ted Cruz or Jeb Bush were great alternatives?

  210. Trump and his crew's activities surrounding the current Ukraine controversy are not isolated events in this Trump administration. Much more beyond Ukraine is out there that will probably never see the light of day. The infectious tentacles have 3 years to spread throughout the Executive Branch and beyond. Here we are with many Republican political entities actually voicing the opinion that a sitting president extorting a foreign government for the purposes of his reelection is an action that does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. Never mind about the lies, cover-up and obstruction. This is the current face of the Republicans in Congress. Get use to it, as Mick says. Time to move on and out of Trump's party, conscientious conservative. Trump's party no longer wants you.

  211. "What despots and demagogues fear most is their followers developing a conscience." I can't remember anyone using the word "conscience" in an article about Trump before. I don't believe that he himself possesses one.

  212. @A. Stanton trump’s parents never developed his conscience. Parents have a role in teaching their kids how to behave how to treat others. Trump was never taught decency respect honesty core values of conscience. His followers admire he doesn’t have a conscience, to them what is the use of of having one when you can get work done without it.

  213. I now wish I hadn't left the Republican Party because of Trump and the failure of the party leadership to stop him from getting the nomination. Why? I didn't get to be called Human Scum. Could some reporter ask Trump if NeverTrump Republicans are Human Scum, what are people who left the party because of him?

  214. Recall that Trump called “never Trumpers” “human scum”. Further recall Trump called Vindman a “never Trumper.” Trump is calling a decorated military veteran with three children in service a “human scum”.

  215. When Trump is gone, either through an election loss or impeachment/removal, Republicans will act as if they never supported him, much as they did with GW Bush. We the people must not fall for it, and never forget what the Republicans have done to the country through their support of Trumpism.

  216. The "Human Scum" T-shirts are already for sale on the internet. Some say "Proud to be Human Scum" on them. They come in many varieties from many different sellers. You didn't really think that you were ahead of the entire garment industry, did you, Brett? ;-)

  217. Cheer up Brett! The "human scum" t-shirt is out! There are actually several versions of it.

  218. What is most glaring about the leaders of the party formerly known as Republican, is that they obviously do not know the fundamental difference between right and wrong. This is much more troubling than Trump himself as he will eventually pass. But the party formerly known as Republican will still exist unless the voters respond conscientiously in 2020. I agree with Bret's column except for the human scum t-shirt. Society would be much improved if everyone learned basic manners and conducted themselves with dignity.

  219. When someone does produce those “Human Scum” t-shirts, they will be a big seller among Congressional Republicans. All those white men lined up behind Kevin McCarthy, nodding support for Trump after the impeachment vote will buy several. They will put them at the bottom of their shirt drawer, underneath their pressed white shirts. Once the poll numbers swing and the base goes into hiding, they will proclaim their freedom, line up behind 2020 candidate Mitt and no one will remember their complicity.

  220. @DO5 " All those white men lined up behind Kevin McCarthy, nodding support for Trump after the impeachment vote will buy several. " As a 76 yr. old white male, (and a lifelong Democrat), I do notice Republican Congressmen all seem to be white, middle aged males with the occasional white female thrown in. Don't look for any people of color, or more than a few women, you won't find many. Republicans are doomed by demographic trends in the future. I'm glad we have Democratic women in the Congress, especially glad we have the Democratic woman named Nancy as Speaker.

  221. I must admit as a progressive it is easy to be disgusted at Trump and his depiction of his own party as human scum. But for a Republican to be a NeverTrumper is something you can wear with pride throughout your life. It shows at this crucial time in history, you put country and humanity before base party demands for incessant obsequious grovelling towards our dearly beloved leader.

  222. If Republicans who reject Trump are "human scum" then Trump would have more choice words to describe liberals (like myself) who will never support his ilk in a million years. Even then, I would wear the suggested T-shirt emblazoned with "Human scum" out of solidarity with the never-Trump Republicans.

  223. Trump's definition of "Never Trumpers" lacks any of the philosophical or policy nuance you choose to ascribe to it. His understanding of it is that "THEY" are against him and that's enough. It wouldn't matter if it was over how he ate his peas or how he withheld aid to Ukraine, you are equally despicable in his mind. I don't think that most people can yet process the monumental ignorance of this man, just what an outlier he is in the species, and how unprepared we all are for something like him. A functioning society, comprised mostly of interactions among strangers, requires a modicum of trust, and in any case, no one can spend every minute of the day weighing every statement or action they encounter for validity, so when someone unleashes an unrelenting torrent of untruths, you either give them the benefit of the doubt, or curl up in a ball and sob. How else could Trump co-opt so many people of reputation? They also fell into the trap because even they, with their Harvard diplomas and West Point pedigrees could not conceive of such a monstrosity and were in fact handicapped by them. Imputing anything more than reptile brain thoughts to Trump is an absolute waste of time.

  224. I knew a man many years ago who always tried to get people to smile at him. I mean everyone. Toll booth workers, flight attendants, restaurant servers,. Everyone. One day I asked him what he would experience if everyone smiled at him. He paused and said, I would look around to find someone who wasn't and get them to smile. Trump wants as much attention as he can get. Positive or negative. He is insatiable like my friend. I am so curious how he will cope with being impeached and one day leaving the White House. Eventually, we will all stop paying attention to him. Can't wait!

  225. Upon hearing what his Commander-in-Chief said about him being "human scum," Lt.-Col. Alexander Vindman could have used a phrase employed by the late Canadian Prime Minister Pierre-Eliott Trudeau upon being questioned about a vulgar comment Richard Nixon made about him. That comment was: "I have been called far worse by far better people."

  226. Ha! I'd love to see Mr. Stephens in his limited-edition T-shirt. I would bow to his sense of integrity. Hopefully, there will be more 'born again Never Trumpers'. What I'd really love to see is a "Human Scum" Never Trumper march in DC -- can you imagine the impact? Mr. Stephens, John Kasich, Scaramucci, and the rest, all leading the way through the streets of DC to a rally point in front of the Whitehouse... man, as a liberal independent, I'd donate money to that march. Even buy a T-shirt! It'd be the event of the year!

  227. I do wish more people would become American historians. This current brou-ha-ha is reminiscent of far too much of our relatively short history and should be acknowledged as such. It all began during the constitutional convention in Philadelphia (read Madison's notes), rose to a fever pitch during the run-up to the election of 1800, and then festered until the present day, cycling between short periods of relative calm and longer times of near madness (during the last two decades before the Civil War, during the Gilded Age, during our participation in WWI, and as we endured the Great Depression, in the mid-to-late 1960's, and so on). We have been at each other's throats many times, and only rarely united (think just after the British surrender at Yorktown, December 7th, 1941 and right after 9/11). But otherwise, we have never truly found a way to think of ourselves as one people. Given that we were the first nation in the world to found ourselves in definition as a republic, our failure to find a way of seeing ourselves as a people who could be tolerant of each other as well as free to express ourselves is a terrible indictment of our basest political instincts. We have too often deserved Donald Trump, and our essential issue must be to understand why.

  228. @James Quinn Donald J. Trump is the true embodiment of "American Exceptionalism".

  229. It is indeed humorous, but disingenuous to the extreme, how these self-righteous, unaccountable conservatives who cynically helped create the very electoral conditions leading to Trump’s political success, now so vociferously disavow him. Perhaps that explains his reference to “human scum”, the rage of an abandoned, upset child against hypocritical, neglectful parents. You “own” him Never Trumpers.

  230. The public hearings haven't started yet. And Trump is definitely going to do something that will make things much, much worse as he fights back. He probably already is. Don't be so sure about the vote in the Senate. If his popularity continues to drop, Senators will be climbing over each other to reissue him.

  231. Bret, “born-again Never Trumper” is stupid and insulting at once. Stupid because being a Never Trumper, as you know, has nothing to do with anything being revealed; it’s about seeing clearly beforehand. And insulting to the evangelical for whom “born again” had literal significance. The term is not an intensifier. It’s a description of a transcendent experience. It’s a shame you and your editors are seemingly unaware of that.

  232. I still blame republicans, ALL republicans, even you never Trumpers for Trump but at least this is hopeful news that his support is finally waning.

  233. The only NeverTrumpers that get to pat themselves on the back are those that are also NoMoreTrumpers -- willing to support an impeachment inquiry. Until the, Bret, you get no more credit than a canary in the coal mine humming to itself.

  234. Excuse me for asking Bret, but could you please provide your readers with this list of conscientious conservatives. I find I can't bring more than two or three to mind. It seems they're a dying breed. Or simply intimidated, not sure which is worse.

  235. What a fix. Trump has the ability to cause a loss of office for most all who would dare to cross him. Meanwhile those office holders know they have Trump dead to rights (again).

  236. I felt genuinely sad for Rich Lowry as he was trying to come up with arguments to defend Trump actions on Ukraine. Never Trumpers left today are the few and the brave.

  237. The "decency of being "scandalized." Hmmm. Interesting. Why, Brett, when the chameleon antics of "conservatism" occasionally strike a thread of logic and decency, is it always way too late for such a showing of "nobility?" The very name of your "movement," now 3 years into the regime, gets more laughable by the day. There's a 19th century book by Mary Shelley called "Frankenstein." Inextricably intertwined in the surface story are ancient axioms that modern "conservatives" forgot to conserve, and now in usual form, have buyers remorse over their own intellectual short-sightedness over the last 4 decades. Sorry, Brett, but vindication is unlikely among those of us old enough to know better. As Grammy would have said in all her "conservative" glory, "you probably should have thought before....."

  238. What I’d like to know is how Congressman Mr. Van Drew, a Democrat , explains his “no “ vote on the impeachment inquiry and House rules . He’s no better than the rest of the Republicans . Granted , he comes from a district that voted for Trump , but clearly is playing politics just like the rest of them . That’s just as shameful .

  239. Stephens falls into the familiar trap using Trump's term, NeverTrumper Republicans, coined to identify & demean. Since Trump was specifically referring to Republicans, the better term is not the headline writer's "conscientious conservatives" who might be Libertarians, Independents, & even Democrats, but "True Republicans." TR are party members who believe in traditional party values & principles: small government, fiscal responsibility, free markets, free speech, church/state separation, personal integrity, civility, honest work, independent thought, & equal opportunity for all hard-working Amns. Some True Republicans may have been NeverTrumpers; many gave Trump a chance, hoping post election, he would rise to the occasion. Sadly he chose to be the pres only for those who voted for him, and has demeaned the office in countless ways. A TR doesn't want to become a Dem or Inde, but to reclaim the party. For Trump the party has been a only tool (he was longer a Dem than a Rep), and today he thinks he the right to demand personal loyalty from all Republicans. Loyalty must be earned, and this president has clowned his way thru office for 3 years, hardly working, presiding over a nepotistic & disorganized administration, dividing rather than uniting America, claiming results that haven't happened, undermining alliances, using filthy language, and racking up the highest debt levels ever. That's not Republican. TRs know that we have much better to offer for 2020.

  240. Who? On TR side will really step forth? And as for what you described TRs well, tiny government aside Dems do stand for all those things last I checked. Our armed forces eat our biggest budget and I KNOW TRs want that. So let’s not get too carried away with semantics. Admit not all government is bad. What we need is radical transparency and right now the Dems are far more in favor of that than any GOPer I’ve seen of late.

  241. @MEC At the rate that the Republican Party is going there won't be one left to "reclaim" as you say. Trump's fire is consuming all. As far as I'm concerned, good riddance.

  242. In order to count, they should - to quote a phrase - stand up and be counted. And I don’t mean those whose job security is ensured by dint of being token conservatives at the Grey Lady’s dinner parties.

  243. Considering how many pseudo-conservative Republicans have sold their souls to maintain power it seems extremely unlikely that more than a few tokens will suddenly remember that their loyalty is supposed to be to their constituents, their country, and our Constitution. The only Republican thing Trump has done is lower taxes on the uber-wealthy, and if I can be snarky, he also cheated and continues to cheat our Constitution (Merrick Garland will never go away).